En rekke attenat og bombeeksplosjoner i Tatarstan viser at radikal islam har spredt seg i Russland. Tidligere var det begrenset til Kaukasus.

Men det er langt fra Tsjetsjenia til Kazan i Tatarstan, og mye nærmere det sentrale Russland.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

On Sunday, a car carrying three men, an automatic rifle and Islamic pamphlets blew up in Zelenodolsk, about a half-hour west of Kazan, in what the authorities described as the inadvertent detonation of a homemade explosive. “That radical direction exists in Tatarstan,” Mr. Malashenko said. “And it’s dangerous.”

Russiske myndigheter tar islam og muslimer mer alvorlig, og har foretatt justeringer i kursen. Russland har 20 millioner muslimer, to millioner bare i Moskva. Politikken i Tsjetsjenia var knallhard, nå forsøker myndighetene en mykere linje. Nylig åpnet det en muslimsk tv-kanal på den største kabelkanalen.

Utenrikspolitisk har Russland lagt seg nærmere palestinerne og den muslimske verden. Her finnes det også historiske forløpere, og Putin har en tendens til å ville ramme Vesten, dvs støtte dens motstandere.

Men dette vil kunne skape problemer for Russland på lengre sikt. For landets problemer med radikaliserte er trolig bare i begynnerfasen. Hva da med vestlig assistanse og samarbeid?

Å støtte Hamas synes ikke en spesielt smart strategi.

“All over the world, we can watch bloodshed, civil wars, changing of power, changes of political systems, confrontations of various religious groups, confrontations of various political systems and interests,” said Sheik Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia. “The Muslims of Russia are watching very attentively.”

In a country with 20 million Muslims, two million in Moscow alone, that sort of attention has had divergent effects on Russian foreign policy. It has reinforced Moscow’s support of Palestinian statehood, which dates to cold war jockeying between the Soviet Union and the United States. Kremlin news releases typically refer to “Palestine,” and Russia supports United Nations membership for the Palestinian government. On Friday, Sheik Gainutdin led a national day of prayer in support of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, which has become an annual tradition.

Russia’s leaders have also adopted a nuanced view of Hamas, regarding it as a social service organization and a legitimate political player in the region and dismissing allegations of hypocrisy from Israel, which has equated Hamas with the Chechen militants whom Mr. Putin routinely denounces as terrorists.

Putin slår bena under sin mer islam-vennlige politikk ved å holde strengt på nasjonal suverenitet, dvs. Russland har ingen sympati for opprørerne, det være seg i Libya eller Syria. Absolutt ikke i Syria. Putin forsyner Assad med våpen. Det har kostet Russland mye goodwill i den arabiske og muslimske verden.

Putin sliter med en nasjonalisme på hjemmebane, også i form av den russisk-ortodokse kirke, som forfordeles grovt i forhold til andre trossamfunn.

In an interview, Sheik Gainutdin said that Mr. Putin and other leaders had been largely supportive of the Muslim community, but he said that Moscow city officials were risking a conflagration by not doing more to address an acute shortage of mosques. He has often noted that Beijing has 70 mosques for 250,000 Muslims while Moscow has just 4 for two million.

Privately, many Muslim officials blame the Russian Orthodox Church, which is increasingly close to the Kremlin, for blocking efforts to acquire property for new mosques in the capital.


Når det skjer noe voldsomt reagerer myndighetene på refleks – med å slå hardt ned. Det er flere hundre års autokratisk tradisjon, med stalinismen på toppen, som sitter i ryggmarven.

What followed in Kazan was a swift and at times seemingly indiscriminate crackdown. Dozens of Muslim men were rounded up and arrested. Most have since been released, while the authorities continue to search for suspects, including one man believed to have appeared in a video made by the mujahedeen of Tatarstan.
Gabdulla-Khazrat Galiullin, a former chief mufti in Kazan, who is now imam of the 160-year-old Nurulla mosque, said he had been visited by the authorities and warned that he and his mosque were under suspicion of extremism. Sitting in his office in the mosque basement, wearing a white skullcap and flowing white robe, Mr. Galiullin said that the response by the authorities was heavy-handed.

“They moved with a scythe instead of pulling out only the weeds,” he said. “It is impossible to arrest so many people without having a list prepared in advance.”
But he warned that unjustified arrests, and efforts by the security services to control local religious leaders, would prompt a backlash and potentially provoke the extremism it is intended to prevent. “It’s quite easy to bring people to extremes,” he said. “To start a fire, only one match is needed.”

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

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